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Oppositionalism: The Greatest Threat To The People’s Welfare

4:35 am in Uncategorized by Jim Moss

locking horns

locking horns by useless no more

Yesterday, I went to the kindergarten graduation ceremony at the local public elementary school. One of the teachers, who happens to be a member of my church and a card-carrying Republican, spoke briefly of a new after-school program that she has helped initiate. It is designed for children who are in danger of not having the basic skills necessary to begin first grade – a type of program that is quite common around the nation, but that had been sorely lacking in this rural Virginia county.

I was choking back tears as this teacher called about two dozen children to the stage – most of them from desperately poor African American families – and presented them with hugs and certificates. Knowing that she also invests a considerable amount of her personal time making home visits and tutoring these students, it dawned on me what a significant difference she makes in the lives of young children who have an incredible number of obstacles thrown between themselves and academic success.

This remarkably dedicated kindergarten teacher reminds us of how incomplete and misleading the typical left vs. right dichotomy can be. It would be easy to consider her Republican voting record and her conservative views on issues such as abortion, gay rights, and gun control, and to conclude she has little in common with progressives such as myself. From this, it would be easy to assume that, like some Republicans, she takes a “blame the poor” attitude toward poverty issues and has little compassion for those who are suffering in this economic crisis. Because of such stereotyping, it would be easy to ignore the fact that she is dedicating her life to helping poor children in a woefully underfunded public school system.

Those of us who get pigeonholed into easy categories of left/right and Democrat/Republican often fail to see the common bonds we share with our so-called political enemies. We cannot allow differences on a handful of “hot-button” issues to be exploited by those with political agendas and ambitions. If people of good will and legitimate concern for the common welfare continue to beat up one another based on these outdated categories, more sinister forces that have no concern for the people or no particular stake in partisan politics will further consolidate their power.
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Putting Away Childish Things (And Divisive Rhetoric)

7:16 am in Uncategorized by Jim Moss

Like many Americans, the tragic shootings in Tucson, Arizona last January gave me pause – pause enough that I lost my taste for blogging for more than four months. But my distaste had less to do with the speculation over the alleged motives of the shooter and more to do with my own reaction to the news.

On that Saturday afternoon, I was sitting at the kitchen table working on a sermon, and my wife entered the room to tell me that a U.S Representative had been shot at a political rally. My exact words were this: “Well, I guess it was bound to happen sooner or later. I blame Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck.” And then I turned back to my laptop and resumed my work.

About twenty minutes later, I decided to take a break from the sermon, and I logged onto Facebook. I had actually forgotten about the news from Arizona that should have been downright shocking, but I was soon reminded by the animated chatter scrolling by on my news feed. Almost immediately, I engaged in a heated debate with a conservative friend about whether the shooting could be blamed on the heated rhetoric that had been boiling over from the right since the health care debate started.
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UnCommon Ground – When Big Business and Big Government Merge

2:02 pm in Uncategorized by Jim Moss

photo: Matt Stratton via Flickr

Just how much common ground is there between progressives and traditional conservatives? Not enough to bring them together, say some critics of my suggestion to forge a new type of political alliance. The two groups might share a distaste for the current state of government, they argue, but this distaste has come about for very different reasons.

Conservatives blame big government for our nation’s problems, while progressives blame big corporations. Conservatives want to reduce the influence of Washington on the business community, and progressives want to reduce the influence of big business on Washington. It might appear that the two are mutually exclusive philosophies that could never unite politically, even as strange bedfellows.

Supporters of my suggestion, however, say that this is a false dichotomy. They claim that in today’s political environment, there is little difference between government and business. The two are not competing powers with their corresponding constituencies on the left and the right. Instead, they now act as one unified interest, over and against the interests of the people. The only way for this unified interest to be stopped is for people from both sides of the old spectrum to recognize their common enemy and unite in resistance.

Oddly enough, I agree with both the supporters and the critics. The supporters are absolutely right in that government and big business have slowly merged into one all-powerful political force, manifest in both the Republican and Democratic Parties. The people, trapped in this corporate-controlled two-party system, have been consistently pitted against one another as the plutocrats have consolidated their power. Citizens from the left and the right, if they want their power back, have no choice but to look for some type of friendship with one another.  . . . Read the rest of this entry →

Watercooler – Minority Party Achieves Top Priority, Majority Settles For Scraps

7:00 pm in Uncategorized by Jim Moss

Welcome to Scrap Eden. (photo: LU5H.bunny via Flickr)

This quote from John Boehner on the tax cut deal tells us all we need to know:

Our first goal was to stop the tax hike that was coming on January 1st… Considering that Democrats control the House, the Senate and the White House, I thought on balance it was worthy of my vote.

Of course Boehner thought it was worthy. He must have been struggling to suppress his elation. He knows that by all rights, the 111th Congress should have allowed the tax cuts to expire and extended unemployment, as well as passing a much stronger New Deal-type stimulus, and meaningful climate change legislation, and financial reform with real teeth, etc., etc.

A supposedly progressive president. An overwhelming majority in the House. And at least for a while, a filibuster proof majority in the Senate. But the minority party achieves its #1 goal, and the majority gets a few scraps thrown their way. The Democrats are completely and absolutely inept bought. Let’s see what they do now to “screw up” START and DADT.

What’s on your mind tonight?

Watercooler – Gibbs Wants To Grow Up

7:00 pm in Uncategorized by Jim Moss

Gibbs and Pres. Obama check out what's up "in America" from a safe distance. (Official White House photo by Pete Souza)

This gem from Robert Gibbs should be fun to kick around:

That was the message in this election, was people are going to have to be able to sit down at the tables like adults, discuss issues like adults, come out of that room and get results for American people like adults. I think if adulthood can break out, that’s a good thing.

Sounds like a pre-justification for more caving. What’s on your mind tonight?

Watercooler – Republicans Block Medical Care For Ground Zero Rescue Workers

7:08 pm in Uncategorized by Jim Moss

These folks deserve better. (photo: Viewmaker via Flickr)

It’s always interesting to see how partisan pundits try to defend the indefensible actions of the politicians they support. Here’s Jonathan Chait of The New Republic spinning the Republicans’ blockage of Ground Zero medical care:

It’s as if Democrats sat around dreaming up an issue that would make the Republicans look as bad as possible:

“What if Republicans supported a bill to seize puppies from poor children and turn them into pate to be served at a yacht reception for tobacco lobbyists?”

“No, too maudlin. What if we tried to introduce a foreign policy element — like, Republicans enacted a tax break for the bin Laden family…”

I could see a conversation like that leading to the Republican Ground Zero health care position. I can’t see it as the result of any conversation that had any political operatives or non-sociopaths in the room.

Pretty pathetic, no matter how you slice it. What’s on your mind tonight?

Chris Matthews – A “Liberal” In Service Of The Status Quo

6:19 am in Uncategorized by Jim Moss

KindGSL posted this clip in a comment thread, and I thought it was worthy of posting on the main page:

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

The clip is full of the typical efforts to discredit and marginalize progressives, with terms like “crazies” and assertions that Obama “comes from the progressive wing of the Democratic Party” – which is a sneaky ploy to make a significant portion of the left seem like a fringe element.

Perhaps most telling of Matthews’ insiduous methods is when Joan Walsh finally starts making sense (at about the 5:00 mark) and asserts that Obama is not progressive, that both parties have shifted significantly to the right, and that both parties operate in service to Wall Street. It’s stunning how quickly Matthews shuts down that line of conversation and shifts to a different topic.

In addition, we get to see Howard Fineman make unnecessary references to Fox News, warning us that a challenge to Obama will be seized upon and supported by the Republicans. These guys could try to be a little less transparent in their defense of the two-party corporatist establishment. These not-so-veiled attempts to marginalize and discredit will only get stronger as the progressive movement continues to build.

Watercooler – Tax Cut Debacle Should Be The Last Straw

7:08 pm in Uncategorized by Jim Moss

The last straw... (photo: phil calvert via Flickr)

Ezra Klein on the latest in a long line of Democratic cave-ins:

Democrats, it seemed, had won this one. They had the popular position, the president’s veto pen and control of the Congress. But they simply refused to carry the ball over the goal line. Instead, they began negotiating with themselves, talking about millionaires’ brackets and short-term extensions. Republicans noticed the Democrats’ disarray and lost their fatalism: “Incoming House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said on Bloomberg Television he was ready to instruct GOP members to vote down legislation Democrats plan to bring to the floor that would extend the expiring Bush-era tax cuts only for the middle class.”

Now it looks like all the tax cuts will be extended, at least for the moment. But it’s a baffling outcome. The structure of the situation favored — and continues to favor — the Democrats. No tax cuts pass without their support, and Republicans have previously admitted that their position isn’t popular enough to prevail in a standoff. The only thing that’s changed is that Republicans have realized Democrats aren’t confident enough to enter a standoff.

At this point, it doesn’t matter if they are incompetent, cowardly, or secretly Republicans. (I vote for the third option.) There is no way that any progressive should support this party in any way going forward.

It’s time to stop complaining about the ongoing series of of unbelievable Democratic betrayals, and to start getting serious about putting together a progressive third party.Time is ticking, and I challenge anyone on this site to explain why they are still holding out hope on the Dems when it is more than clear that they have sold us up the river.

What’s on your mind tonight?

UnCommon Ground – Failed Bipartisanship And The Need For Systemic Change

8:14 am in Politics by Jim Moss

graphic: outtacontext via Flickr

(This is the first chapter of a book I am writing called “UnCommon Ground.”  The introduction can be found here and here.)

In 2007, as the Republicans were beginning the process that would eventually nominate John McCain, the following poll asked conservatives to list their top ten issues for the upcoming presidential election. The results were telling:

1)      Illegal immigration – listed by 86%

2)      War on terrorism – 80%

3)      Federal spending – 65%

4)      Judicial appointments – 64%

5)      Flat tax/tax cuts – 61%

6)      Size of government – 61%

7)      Iraq – 55%

8)      Social Security – 45%

9)      Entitlement programs – 38%

10)   Abortion – 36%

At first glance, this poll seems to confirm that conservatives have little in common with progressives. I could not find a comparable survey, but a reasonable guess is that progressives would have come up with a much different list – GLBT rights, climate change, universal health care, regulating the financial sector, and so forth. Any issues that would be shared between the two groups (taxes, War on Terror, Social Security, abortion, etc.) would find them at polar opposites with no hope for reconciliation.

This apparently complete disparity between conservatives and progressives is a false construction. Both major parties as well as the mainstream media have fueled the dichotomy that has created the rigid “us vs. them” mentality that dominates American politics.  . . .

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Some Random Reflections On Election Night

6:13 am in Uncategorized by Jim Moss

1) CNN still stinks. – A dozen “experts” supposedly representing all sides of the spectrum, but no true progressives (and no true Tea Partiers, either). Spitzer was the only one who even came close, but he’s a hopeless Democratic partisan. A classic case of the mainstream media reducing a complex narrative to two simplistic points of view that in reality only represent the Washington establishment.

2) Highlight of the night: Blanche Linclon goes down, and goes down hard. – Functionally, this race meant nothing, since Lincoln has been voting Republican all along – but man, did that feel good! Hopefully a lesson to others who are tempted by the Blue Dog siren song.

3) Democratic leadership is in serious denial. To hear Tim Kaine, even as late as 8:30 pm, still predicting that the Democrats would keep the House was laughable. Certainly, he’ll be touching up his resume soon.

4) The Republican Party is about to explode. Even the conservative wags in the CNN studio couldn’t hide the fact that a major civil war is brewing in the GOP. The Tea Party folks who managed to get elected are not going to roll over and be good Republican drones for Boehner and company. When it’s time to actually get real about spending cuts and earmarks, this is going to get interesting – and present progressives with a chance to win some converts.

5) Rand Paul will be good for the progressive cause. First, he’ll be one of the key players that splits the Republicans. Second, he’ll give a national stage to some of the ridiculous ideas that come from the Tea Party/libertarian marriage – such as allowing businesses to discriminate on racial lines. This is a golden opportunity for us to show that progressives have better ideas and plain common sense approaches to our national problems.

6) Marco Rubio scares me to death. Prediction: Rubio will run for president, maybe in 2012, but more likely in 2016. He’s got everything the far right needs in a candidate: Youth, good looks, charisma, he’s not white, and he’s proven that he can win big in a battleground state. Be afraid. Be verrrrry afraid.

It looks like our work is cut out for us. Let’s get to it!